Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

St Swithun’s Church Bell Ringers - 50 Years of Peal Ringing

The first recorded peal on St Swithun’s bells was rung on 15 Feb 1964. The church then only had four bells and peal ringing on four was not, and still is not, a very popular choice. A peal consists of 5040 changes, each change being one blow from each bell in a changing order. Where the number of bells allows it, all the changes have to be different and not repeated in a peal. This can be done on seven or more bells; but for fewer bells there are insufficient different changes so repetition has to occur. With four bells there will be 210 repetitions of the 24 possible changes, each being called an extent. This is mainly why a peal of Minimus is not popular with ringers. However, between 1964 and 1984 seven peals of Minimus were rung, the repeated changes being varied by following different methods. Each peal took about 2 hours 20 minutes to complete.

The 1964 peal consisted of four methods: 100 extents of Plain Bob, 50 of Reverse Canterbury, 25 of Double Bob and 35 of St. Nicholas. The ringers were H Geoffrey Wells, Robert D March, C Ray Larkin and George A Dawson, who was the conductor. It was Geoffrey Wells’ first peal at his first attempt. It was also a first peal of minimus for all the band and for the Southwell Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers. The footnote to the peal says it was rung as a compliment to Minnie Pailing and Samuel Foskett on their wedding day and as a welcome to Tanya Wise born a few days earlier.

Five years later the second peal was rung on 30th August 1969 in 5 methods: 90 extents Single Court, 50 Double Bob, 30 Reverse Court, 20 Reverse Bob and 20 Plain Bob. It was David W Flower’s first peal aged 12, Patricia M Hayward’s first on the second bell age 17, Peter L R Hayward’s first peal of minimus age 16, and H Geoffrey Wells, age 21, was the conductor on the tenor. The footnote mentions the birthdays of Miss Patricia M Hayward, Miss Jennifer Lush, Miss Jill Kirkham and Mrs Lewis England.

Not long after a peal was rung for the 21st birthday of HRH Prince Charles. On 15th November 1969 Anthony A Boden rang his first peal with David W Flower, H Geoffrey Wells and Peter L R Hayward, the last two being the joint conductors of what was claimed as 97 methods, principals or variations; but is listed as 9 methods on the Felstead online peals database.

Woodborough Feast was celebrated on 4th July 1970 with a peal of 5040 Plain Bob Minimus rung and jointly conducted by Joan Canter, David W Flower, Anthony A Bowden and Peter L R Hayward.

The following year a slightly longer peal of 5064 changes (24 more than needed) of Single Court Bob Minimus marked the 50th birthday of Kathleen Jamson and giving thanks for the lives of Percy Bingham and Frank Sissons. The ringers were Sarah E Boden, Peter L R Hayward (conductor), G Peter Butler and David W Flower.

All the above peals are recorded, along with quarter peals in the period from 1963 to 1971, in a record book kept by Peter L R Hayward and kindly donated to and kept in the ringing room at Woodborough.

Ten years elapsed until 27th October 1981 when the next peal was rung. This consisted of 11 minimus methods and was reported in issue 3683 of the Ringing World, the weekly journal for church bell ringers since 1911. The peal took 2 hours and 31 minutes and the methods were Plain Bob, Reverse Bob, Double Bob, St Nicholas, Reverse St Nicholas, Canterbury, Reverse Canterbury, Reverse Court, Double Court and Single Court with variations on Single Court and Plain Bob. The ringers were Peter L R Hayward, Jonathan F K Tait, Andrew B Mills and Julian M Aubrey. With this peal Peter Hayward had rung all four bells to peals.

A further peal of 11 methods was rung on 11th February 1984 in 2 hours 30 minutes by Jonathan K F Tait, Lynn P Butters (first peal of minimus), Peter L R Hayward (conductor), and Andrew B Mills. The methods were Single Court, Rev’d. Canterbury, Plain Bob, Rev’d. Court, Double Court, Canterbury, Double Canterbury, St. Nicholas, Rev’d. St. Nicholas, Rev’d. Bob and Double Bob, with 20 extents of the first three and 19 of each of the remainder, making a peal length of 5088 changes. This was rung for the Diocesan Centenary and also in memory of Charles P. Foster, the younger brother of Mannie Foster. He was the shopkeeper/postmaster up to 1982 and died in 1983. The Foster family had been involved in the shop for about 110 years. (see Shops & Trades in Woodborough by Peter Saunders elsewhere on this site).

In 1985 a fifth bell was added to the ring to commemorate the centenary of the Southwell Diocese in 1984 and later peals were in Doubles methods. The first peal since augmentation was on 27 Aug 1985 conducted by Peter L R Hayward and included 11 methods.  The ringers were Julian M Aubrey, on the newly installed treble bell, George A Dawson, John R Rigby, Jonathan K F Tait and Peter L R Hayward on the tenor. The peal was also rung “in memory of Kathleen Samson, lifelong member of this church”. The eleven methods were: St Remigius, Eynesbury, Huntley, St Osmund, St Nicholas, St Simon’s, St Martin’s, Winchendon, Rev. Canterbury, Plain Bob and Grandsire.

It was ten years before the next peal was rung on 8 Jul 1995, conducted by Ian Butters, in 18 methods and 20 variations, for Woodborough Feast Sports Day. The band consisted of: Janet Rogers, Ian Butters, Brian Mills, Richard Allton and Andrew B Mills.

The following year was the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Southwell Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers and peals were rung throughout the Diocese. Woodborough rang out on 22 Dec 1996 to a peal of Plain Bob Doubles conducted by John R Rigby from Gedling. The other ringers were: Emma C Bradley, Stephen L Smith, Philip R Wild and Clive Allen. The peal was a first for Emma C Bradley and Stephen L Smith.

The peal on 1st April 2004 was to be the last peal on the five bells before they were re-hung and augmented to six. It was rung in thanksgiving for the life and ministry of the Rev’d Alfred Ross Hayward, who died on 22 Mar 2004, aged 83, and was Vicar of Woodborough from 1965-1972. Seven methods were conducted by William L Exton. Four years later the bells were augmented to six to commemorate the life of Charles Edward Foster, father of John Mansfield “Mannie” Foster who bequeathed the money for the extra bell.

The first peal on the augmented bells and 12th at Woodborough was on 1st May 2010 in seven Minor methods.  Each method was 720 changes long with none repeated, so the seven methods made up 5040 changes in all, and required for 2 hours 40 minutes to complete. The methods were: Norwich Surprise, Cambridge Surprise, Oxford Treble Bob, Kent Treble Bob, St. Clements, Single Oxford and Plain Bob. It was conducted appropriately by Peter L R Hayward whose firm Hayward Mills & Co. had re-hung the bells. The ringers were: Stephen L Smith, Peter L R Hayward, Chris Birkby, John R Rigby, Andrew B Mills (of Hayward Mills & Co.) and Philip R Wild.

The next peal was rung on 23 Mar 2011 in seven Surprise Minor Methods conducted by Paul F Curtis. The ringers were Ian Butters, Paul M Mason, Ruth Curtis, David J Dearnley, Paul N Mounsey and Paul F Curtis, and the methods were: Bacup, Carlisle, London, Netherseale, Durham, Westminster and Bourne.

Finally, exactly 50 years after the first recorded peal at Woodborough and after his first peal, H Geoffrey Wells returned to St. Swithun’s to celebrate the anniversary. Again the peal was made up of seven extents: Single Oxford Bob, Norwich Surprise, Cambridge Surprise, Oxford Treble Bob, Kent Treble Bob, St. Clements Court Bob and Plain Bob, conducted by Peter L R Hayward ringing the treble bell, the only bell he had not rung to a peal. The band consisted of: Peter L R Hayward, David J Marshall, Philip R Wild, George A Dawson (who had also rung 50 years before), Simon Kemp and H Geoffrey Wells.



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